Mineral Resources of New Mexico
Mining has shaped the course of civilization and still plays an important role in the economy of the world by providing raw materials. Minerals are essential to meeting the needs of present society as well as contributing to a sustainable future. People benefit from using minerals every day. Metals and industrial mineral resources are used in nearly every sector of construction and manufacturing. Energy minerals provide electricity, fuels, and are used in industrial applications. Agriculture depends upon minerals for fertilizers and pesticides. It is estimated that every American born today will need 2.96 million pounds of minerals and fuels in their lifetime (Fig. 1). The production and flow of minerals in the U.S. and the world has increased dramatically in the last 100 years as the quality of life has improved (Fig. 2, Wagner, 2002). The U.S. is still a major producer of aggregate, iron, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, molybdenum and other minerals and also imports these and other minerals (Smith, 2001; Wagner, 2002; U.S. Geological Survey, 2011). Future production and consumption of minerals will increase in the future as population increases and people demand an increasingly better quality of life.
FIGURE 1. American mineral and fules needs (from Mineral Information Institute, http://www.mii.org/pdfs/baby.pdf).
The value of mining multiplies in the economy. The mining industry provides additional benefits to the communities where they are located by contributing wages, economic activity due to purchases of goods and services, taxes, royalties and fees to local, state and national governments. Many of the first responders and emergency medical technicians in rural areas are trained and employed by the mining industry. Schools benefit not only from the taxes and royalties, but also from the benfits of having trained and skilled professionals in the community.
Environmentally responsible mining and processing of these minerals is vital to our national economy and to a better quality of life. “One of the greatest challenges facing the world today is integrating economic activity with environmental integrity and social concerns… The fulfillment of ‘needs’ is central to the definition of sustainable development” (IIED, 2002). Thus the goal of sustainable development is to achieve human and ecosystem well-being by continuing the flow of minerals by mining with as little damage to the environment as possible (McLemore and Turner, 2004; Barker and McLemore, 2001).
New Mexico's mineral wealth is one of the richest endowments of any state in the U.S. (McLemore et al., 2002). In 2009 and 2010, New Mexico ranked 20th in the U.S. in nonfuel minerals production (Table 1). New Mexico also ranked 13th in coal production in the U. S. in 2010. In addition, significant reserves of coal, copper, potash, and molybdenum are identified in the state. Most of New Mexico’s mineral production comes from coal, copper, and potash (Table 2). Other commodities produced in the state include a variety of industrial minerals (including stone and aggregate), sulfuric acid, molybdenum, gold, uranium, and silver (Table 2).
Barker, J.M., and McLemore, V.T., 2004, Sustainable development and Industrial minerals: Society of Mining, Exploration, and Metallurgy, SME Preprint No. 04-171 CD-ROM, 10 p., http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/staff/mclemore/documents/sustdevIM.pdf
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), 2002, Mining Minerals Sustainable Development Breaking new ground: International Institute for Environment and Development, www.iied.org/mmsd (accessed on March 27, 2002).
McLemore, V.T., Hoffman, G.K., and Pfeil, J., 2002, Minerals industry in New Mexico in 1998-2000: New Mexico Geology, v. 24, p. 19-28, http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/publications/periodicals/nmg/downloads/24/n1/nmg_v24_n1_p19.pdf
McLemore, V.T., and Dennis Turner, D., 2004, Sustainable development and exploration: Society of Mining, Exploration, and Metallurgy, SME Preprint No. 04-170, CD-ROM, 10 p., http://geoinfo.nmt.edu/staff/mclemore/documents/sustdev.pdf
Smith, S.S., 2000, Preliminary statistical summary: U. S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodities Yearbook, 7 pp., http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/statistical _summary#myb (accessed on March 27, 2001).
Wagner, L.A., 2002, Materials in the Economy— Material Flows, Scarcity, and the Environment: U. S. Geological Survey, Circular1221, 34 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2002/c1221/U.S. Geological Survey, 2011, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2011: 201 p., http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mcs/2011/mcs2011.pdf
George Austin — Emeritus Senior Industrial Minerals Geologist
James Barker — Emeritus Senior Industrial Minerals Geologist
Doug Bland — Special Projects Manager
Bob Eveleth — Emeritus Senior Mining Engineer
Ibrahim Gundiler — Emeritus Senior Extractive Metallurgist
Gretchen Hoffman — Senior Coal Geologist
Virginia McLemore — Senior Economic Geologist